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8 February 2013

Videoart feature
Cambodian documentary films

Today, Wilfried releases “The Cambodia Memorial” online, based on the Cambodia Film Collection.
Wilfried had the chance to visit Cambodia in 2012 for the 1st time, when he was invited by MetaHOUSE Phnom Penh – the Cambodian-German cultural centre- to present his programs of engaged artistic contents, among others, a comprehensive selection from Shoah Film Collection and Cologne international Videoart Festival.

Together with the initiator of MetaHouse, the German Nico Mesterharm and his Cambodian wife Sopheak Sao, both additionally also film makers, the Department of MediaStudies at the Royal University of Phnom Penh and the German NGO GIZ, Wilfried initiated the Cambodia Film Collection aimed to incorporate documentary films by young Cambodian film makers deaing with the Cambodian genocide and the post-genocide era and encourage young local artists to reflect the still paralyzing collective trauma of the genocide.

Open the Memorial site here

The Cambodian Genocide – 1975-1979 – executed by Pol Pot – a fundamental Communist regime, wanted to exterminate all intellectuals and educated people like doctors and establish a slave society based on uneducated farmers. During the short period of just 4 years more than one million people were killed under the most brutal, barbarian circumstances.

When Wilfried was visting the Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh, a horrifying place where the victims were murdered in most inhuman ways, he was even more shocked than after he had visited Auschwitz and Majdanek 20 years earlier in 1992, while being confronted with the horror he had to throw up and was not able to continue the “sight seeing”.

Nowadays nobody really can imagine the misery, the prison area and also the area of the “killing fields” outside of Phnom Penh, where all the mass-graves are situated are surrounded by exotic plants and palm trees like in a holiday resort. It is this contradiction also in terms that the Cambodians are particularly nice and smooth people which makes it even harder to stand the horror, because it is taking place inside, with disastrous effects on the physical and psychological health.

Wilfried, who desperate wanted actually also visit Angkor Wat, the former Khmer capital with all the amazing monuments, however was too exhausted from visiting Tuol Sleng, but he was bringing back to Germany something most precious, the unique collection of films forming later the basis for “The Cambodia Memorial”.

The Film Collection, consisting about 30 individual films, was presented several times, for instance in 2014 at Moscow Gulag Museum – a collaboration with Marina Fomenko and her Moscow based Now & After Video Art Festival.

In 2018, the Cambodia Memorial became corporate part of the 7 Memorials for Humanity – http://7mfh.a-virtual-memorial.org

a complementary program of videos
Sopheak Sao (Cambodia) – Title: The Survivor, 2011, 12:00, PAL, 4:3

Nico Mesterharm/Mark Hammond (Germany/Cambodia/USA) – Pepperfields, 2010, 23:05

DMC Poyal University of Phnom Penh – Looking back, 2007, 50:00, PAL, 4:3